Close to 500 school bus drivers, custodians and other tradespeople with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board in Nova Scotia are on strike today.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees said its membership voted on Sunday to reject the board's latest offer.

Close to 20,000 students attend schools operated by the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board.

About 17,000 of them normally take the bus, but starting Monday morning, parents like Ken Beamish will have to make other arrangements. 

'If the strike persists and lingers, there is definitely a concern of cleanliness.' - Greg Porter, parent

"My oldest, he has about a 40-kilometre drive to school so, yeah, it's going to be a lot of travelling there for a bit,” he said.

Kristie Chapman started her day scrambling to find a drive for her two children. She doesn't own a car. 

"I actually had to call my parents and get my mom to come and pick us up so that way we could get up here to school with my kids," she said. "I'm hoping it doesn't last too long."

School board spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson said contingency plans are in place.

Do you have a difficult commute now getting your kids to school and yourself to work? Tell us about it:

"Obviously health and safety is a priority. Our cleaning teams will be working to make sure that our schools and offices are maintained at that level,” she said.

Greg Porter is worried about how the fill-ins will keep standards up at his six-year-old's school. 

"Today, the next day or so it will be OK, but if the strike persists and lingers, there is definitely a concern of cleanliness," he said. "I've been inside the school after the kids leave and know how much of a mess is left."

High school exams underway

Schools will open an hour before class starts and only an hour after the last bell. All extracurricular activities are cancelled and school space is no longer available for non school-related groups after hours.

High school students started writing exams Monday morning.

The sticking point is the school board's decision to contract out some work.

"I don't know if it had to go this far or not. I would say to get where we want to go, we do have to fight for our rights,” said maintenance worker David Lynds.

The school district covers a large area including Truro, Stellarton and New Glasgow.

With files from The Canadian Press